Tahini

lima tahinTahini is one of those products that’s pretty much always vegan but is such a staple in the vegan kitchen that it’s worth mentioning. This fantastic sesame paste has so many uses, and it adds a delicious creamy nuttiness to a lot of dishes. It’s an essential ingredient of an authentic hummus, but can also be used in baking, for sauces, salad dressings, in stews and soups, and I’ve even seen it in recipes for vegan mac & cheese. I tend to use it a lot to make sauces for rice or noodle bowls, especially variations on the sauce in this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen.

The tahini pictured here is Lima brand, and can be found at pretty much any health food store, but you can get many different (and cheaper, and arguably more authentic) brands at Turkish and Middle-eastern grocery stores. The taste and texture of tahini can vary a lot depending on the style and manufacturing process. The Lima tahini is thick and paste-like, similar to natural peanut butter in texture, whereas other brands tend to be more fluid and smooth. Some can be a bit bitter too depending on if the sesame seeds are hulled or unhulled before processing, but I always find that once I blend it with other ingredients, the bitterness is really tempered. If you don’t like one brand, definitely shop around and try different ones!

Tahini is one of those items that’s available loads of places, from health food stores, to ethnic groceries, to supermarkets with international sections. If you haven’t tried it yet, definitely seek it out. It may become a staple of your kitchen as well.

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